I worked with publisher Larry Luxenberg and designer Margy Schmidt while attending the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association meeting in PA a few days back. We are working to get the e-book version of THRU: An Appalachian Trail Love Story ready for purchase sometime before Thanksgiving with the print version following shortly thereafter. Just for fun, I am placing an excerpt below to give folks a flavor of what to expect. Because my friends at the AT Museum are publishing the book (and receiving all proceeds), I am placing a journal entry of one of my characters — Brave Phillie, a 63-year-old Viet Nam vet and thru-hiker — detailing his solitary visit to the museum.
June 7, Journal entry of Brave Phillie at the Appalachian Trail Museum
I stole away from the Bly Gappers after the ice cream craziness for a solitary stroll around the Appalachian Trail Museum. Trail folk created this place in an old stone grist mill, a labor of love for people who revere the endless trail, a resting place for a thousand odds and ends of many, many decades of A.T. memories and the people and places of the trail.
I wandered from one display to another, recalling bigger-than-life personalities such as Gene Espy, Grandma Gatewood and Ed Garvey. I first started doing trail work before I was in the service. Over the years — aside from hiking — I’ve swung pulaskis, cut blowdowns with crosscut saws, dug out water bars, and worked on countless reroutes, never regretting a bit of it. This place is a sanctuary for all of us who love the miracle of it all.
I came across an old Mt. Katahdin summit sign, the one telling mileages to places near and far — including impossibly distant Springer Mountain. My God, what memories that sign triggered! Like a movie montage racing through my mind, I summoned mental pictures of all the characters and gorgeous locations between Springer and Katahdin. I stood there and wept for so much — Marina, my sweet, unappreciated wife, gone forever. Earl Shaffer. My new friends, who I try to deserve. The half of the trail unhiked on this trip with a new Katahdin summit sign waiting at the end. How can such a self-absorbed soul as myself sustain all the good this footpath has showered on me?
I walked out of that place feeling that good kind of exhaustion a man feels at the end of a hot day’s hike. Ready for water and food and sleep. Ready to gear up for the second half of the last great American adventure.
Hope you enjoyed this snippet. Soon, I will fill you in on some observations of my trip to the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association annual conference. Remember: Stay vertical and keep walking!
6 thoughts on “An excerpt from THRU: An Appalachian Trail Love Story”
Thank you Richard for writing and sharing this wondrous story and infusing it with your own experiences of the A.T. The trail is truly magical and you have brought it to life for all of us who have yet to hike the entire trail.
Thanks Margie. I consider it high praise to hear such kind words from a woman who only days ago traversed the Grand Canyon in 11 hours. Thanks for all you do, kid.
Thank you for the enticing snippet and for being an outstanding writer all those decades ago when I was the one who carried the grade book in the classroom we shared. Hope the completed version of THRU is available in hard copy in time for 2013 holiday giving. Congratulations on a book well done. As a lover of good fiction, I look forward to your next novel and am proud of you. Cheers!
Thanks for your support. Can’t wait to get this baby birthed.
After reading this snippet of Thru, I am once again enthralled with this magical connection the AT creates between soul and nature. I am anxiously awaiting the book to be engulfed in this connection and to experience vicariously the experience.
Babette: THRU is coming soon. Meanwhile, I look forward to finally becoming a member of GATC, the best of all the Appalachian Trail clubs!